was the first climb established on the southwest buttress of the Shield, and the first on the Shield that has 5th class climbing for its full height. Because the Shield is so prominent from ABQ, every Sandia climber is drawn to this formation sooner or later, often with its easiest continuous major route, Procrastination
, in mind. This climb, like the others on the Shield, is not to be taken lightly. The approach is complicated, especially the first time (even for the Sandias), and has definite 'do-not-fall' sections. It'll take couple hours to get to the base of the climb even if done correctly.
There is some good climbing on this route, but about half of the pitches are not great with more loose blocks compared to the other classic Sandia climbs at the same grades on other formations. Strong climbers have had accidents on this climb. Still, because of its length and position, this climb is not to be postponed.
Start behind the boulder in the aspens. Pitch 1:
A 5.8 boulder problem in a black water streak (sometimes wet) is followed by traversing left around the corner. Gear at the top of the boulder problem is there but a little tricky to find, and helps to protect the follower. This part of this pitch is the only part of the climb rated "R" in the book. It's not very scary for an R pitch in my opinion, but I hesitate to remove the R rating for the route though, because sandbagging on the Shield isn't cool.
A 5.4 ramp leads up and left to a 2-bolt belay. Pitch 2:
Lieback a 5.8 finger crack off the belay, and follow the left- facing corner to another 2-bolt belay (or continue up and right to tree). Quality. Pitches 3&4:
Move up and right to a tree (if not done on previous pitch). Follow a sometimes wet 5.8 hand crack up to the roof, and traverse right on featured holds under the roof (crux of route), with pro underneath roof. Turn the corner and continue up the increasingly easy & bushy gully to the next good place to belay. Another quality pitch. This pitch is split into two pitches in Mick's guide, but linking seemed reasonable. Pitch 5:
Cruise up 5.6 gully with some bushes and rubble to the big "bivi ledge" atop the Chicken Chop Suey
crack. It's a nice grassy ledge, but you'd have to be moving pretty slowly to be thinking about bivi-ing at this point though. Pitch 6:
Various options as you climb the corner or the face to its left, passing trees along the way to belay at a tree below a striking arete 180' later (5.7 if you find easiest path in bushes, 5.8 on cleaner left face) Pitch 7:
Again, more options. Stay left of the sharp arete and climb a chimney in the corner or the face to its left (5.7 if you stay in the corner; maybe 5.8 to left). Belay at a tree, or continue farther and build your own anchor. Pitches 8-12, original route:
from Chris Wenker
: The original route angled up and left over mostly 5.6 or easier ground to the top. This is recommended if time or weather suggest a quick exit, or if 5.9 is too hard. Pushing the top of P7 (following the gully, not the 5.8 arete to the right) as high as possible allows you to belay on the Class 3 ground just under the left-facing corner with the roof on P8.
Schein says that P8 traverses left under the roof and then up to a point above the roof (to the Speedbump ledge, I guess). We were able to link P8 and P9 by heading farther left once past the roof (instead of going up). Cross a gully and climb a face with a prominent overhung block. At pretty much a full 60 m, belay somewhere in a series of big ledges with trees (top of P9). If you try to push this belay as far left as possible, the next two pitches (10 & 11) will be able to be combined as well.
P10 heads up from the left side of the treed ledges, targeting a little roof as a landmark (called 'R' in the guidebook, but not really runout at all). Pass by the roof on the right and then head left; at ~100 feet, find a large tree growing out of the base of a gully (top of P10). Behind this tree, grunge another 100 feet up the loose, dirt filled gully to another large tree (top of P11). From the left side of this tree, a very nice right-facing dihedral takes you to the top. This ~125 foot 5.8 summit pitch is all that makes this exit variation worthwhile.] Pitches 8-12, right variation:
The right variation from pitch 8 to the top is 5.9 and supposed to be recommended more: Pitch 8:
Traverse right to an arete, climb this, (5.8, fun) to the 'Speed Bumps' ledge. Belay below the black face, wherever you can find pro for an anchor. It can be somewhat confusing to figure out where exactly to aim for in the next few pitches the first time. Pitch 9:
Climb up dark wall for 30' feet to shallow left facing corner and belay in a dish (5.8, no pro for first 20'). You should be face climbing about 50'-75' left of the obvious left-facing corner off to your right. Pitch 10:
Continue up water streak passing a bolt to a 2-bolt belay (one move of 5.9). Could these last 2 pitches be combined with 60m rope? Pitch 11:
Slab (5.8), one more bolt, and top out. Other Ways to Finish:
Alternatively, from the Speed Bumps belay at the start of p9:
- (a) The big right-facing corner right of the "right finish" (5.9 for first half, top unknown). You can traverse right from this corner into the Odyssey too.
- (b) Angle up and right (5.7R) to the 2-bolt belay at the top of the 1st pitch of the Odyssey, and finish with that route, 5.10a.
- (c) traverse right on Speedbumps (4th class) to other difficult Shield exits (Cowboys Delight 5.12+?, Escape from the Cyclops 5.11a).]
Escape from this route would be possible from the top of p2 with double rope rappels off the bolted anchors at the top of p1 and p2. Beyond that, you'd need to leave a lot of gear. From the top of p8, Hill's guide reports that it is possible to move left to a cave and rappel down in the vicinity of the Standard S Route
with 3 double 50m rope rappels instead of climbing the last pitches.
Left of the prominent rainbow overhangs. It helps to pick out the big dihedral with the offwidth in it which is Chicken Chop Suey's pitch 3 as a landmark; pitch 2 of Procrastination is right below this.
Start behind the boulder in the aspen grove at the base of the talus slope. A water streak marks the beginning.
A normal Sandia rack works well for this climb: 1 set wired nuts, 1 set cams up to 3". If leading at your limit, 2 each of cams might be wise. Long runners are nice to minimize rope drag.
70m ropes can be used to combine pitches even more than shown above.